Tips to Help Seniors Manage Their Medication
Nearly 90% of seniors age 65 and older take at least one prescription drug, and 54% take four or more. At the same time, there are around 1.3 million medication-related emergency room visits every year, and among senior adults, the most common cause is incorrect use of blood thinners and diabetes medication.
So it’s important to make sure your senior loved one has a reliable system in place to manage their medications correctly. We’ll take a look at the top causes of medication errors among seniors, and provide tips on how to help seniors safely manage their medication.
Common causes of medication noncompliance
There are many different reasons why seniors may take their medications incorrectly, including:
- Memory issues
- Changes to prescribed dose or frequency
- Confusing instructions
- Multiple pills that look the same
- Difficulty keeping track of multiple medications and dosage times/amounts
- Unpleasant side effects
- Trouble swallowing pills
- Belief that they don’t need the medication
- Inability to afford medications
If your loved one lives alone, it can be especially difficult to help them maintain a strict medication schedule, but their health depends on taking all of their medications as directed. So let’s take a look at how you can help encourage them and make it easier for them to take their medications correctly.
Pre-sort medications weekly
If your loved one is on multiple medications and having a hard time keeping track of dosages, a pill organizer can be a lifesaver. There are all kinds of options available with spaces for multiple doses throughout the day, as well as easy-to-open versions for seniors with arthritis. They also have versions with alarms and timers to help remind them when each dose needs to be taken.
You can help them fill up the organizer weekly with the correct medications and doses, making daily medication management simple.
Organized tracking system
Memory issues are a normal part of aging — in fact, around 40% of people develop some form of memory challenges after the age of 65. If your loved one has difficulty remembering to take their medications at the right time — or remembering if they’ve already taken a dosage or not — an organized tracking system can help.
Start by gathering all of their medications in a central area where they will be seen frequently, like a kitchen counter or coffee table. Then set them up with a journal or calendar with their medication schedule clearly laid out. It may be helpful to describe what each medication looks like as well, instead of just listing the names.
As they take each dose, they can check it off on the schedule, so there’s no confusion about whether or not they’ve taken it already. And since everything is located in a central, highly frequented area, it will be less likely to slip their mind.
Some seniors have been on the same medication for years, even though there are newer, more effective options available. As a result, they may be taking medications to manage the side effects of other treatments, or taking multiple pills for issues that can now be managed by a single medication.
If possible, arrange a visit to their doctor with them and ask if there are any updated versions of their medications that can help reduce the number of pills they need to take. The fewer medications they need to manage, the easier it will be to keep track of them all and ensure they’re taken correctly. It may also help alleviate unwanted side effects they may be experiencing from less optimal treatments.
Auto-refills and delivery
Auto-refills of medications delivered straight to their door or mailbox can be incredibly helpful, especially for seniors with memory problems or limited mobility. Most major pharmacies, and even some local ones, offer automatic medication refills and home delivery.
This can also be useful if your loved one is having problems affording their medications. If you have the means, you can have their prescriptions billed to you, or you can add your card as a backup payment option in case the primary form of payment is declined.
Of course, you’ll only know if these efforts are effective by monitoring your loved one’s medication compliance. However, for many people, this can be incredibly difficult or even impossible, especially if they don’t live nearby.
If you’re struggling to monitor your loved one’s medication, Right Hand Senior Care can help. We provide comprehensive care and companionship services designed around your senior loved one’s specific needs. Our reliable, compassionate caregivers can help ensure medication compliance, as well as providing assistance with daily tasks, hygiene and grooming, nutrition, and more.
For more information or to set up a care plan for your loved one, contact us today.
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